Cavour (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
There is a beautiful suspension bridge about halfway along the main road from Geneva to Annecy. It is no longer used for vehicular traffic, that function being assumed by a modern replacement built a short distance away, but the bridge’s architectural distinction—delicate crenelated towers supporting graceful single-span cables—has ensured its preservation as a national monument. The bridge was built in about 1835, when Savoy was still part of the hereditary domain of the kings of Sardinia and, on first impression, appears as a tribute to their enlightenment and desire to serve the welfare of their subjects.
In fact, though, the monarchs who ruled Savoy, Piedmont, and Sardinia from their capital in Turin were among the most backward in Europe, to say nothing of Italy. Even the Bourbon rulers of Naples, even the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and even the Habsburg satraps in Lombardy and Venice seemed more progressive. Piedmont-Sardinia was hardly the kind of state associated with a great destiny, and, in the middle of the nineteenth century, hardly seemed to possess the power or the will to be able to determine the fate of others. Its population was only one-fifth that of the whole Italian peninsula, its people were disunited by language and culture; its ruling classes were ingrown, conservative, and xenophobic. Its Jews lived in ghettos, its non-Catholics were deprived of civil rights; its doctors still tried to cure fever by bleeding.
(The entire section is 2106 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Christian Science Monitor. LXXVII, June 21, 1985, p. 22.
History Today. XXXV, July, 1985, p. 55.
Kirkus Reviews. LIII, April 15, 1985, p. 363.
Library Journal. CX, May 1, 1985, p. 56.
The London Review of Books. VII, May 23, 1985, p. 16.
The New York Review of Books. XXXII, June 13, 1985, p. 24.
The New York Times Book Review. XC, September 1, 1985, p. 9.
The New Yorker. LXI, August 19, 1985, p. 86.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVII, April 12, 1985, p. 92.
Times Literary Supplement. May 10, 1985, p. 514.
(The entire section is 63 words.)